Asia | Japan | Tokyo | Narita – Rockin` and Rollin` Narita
For my first night, I have chosen to stay in Narita. Narita is the town closest to the airport where I flew in. OK, ‘chosen’ is a little strong. My train pass doesn’t begin until tomorrow, so I ‘chose’ to stay close to the airport to keep from spending money I didn’t have to.
So I rode the local train to Narita for 250 Yen. Narita was the first stop, and this train was made to carry luggage, so that was easy. Getting off the train I followed the crowd to the surface, and headed for the sunlight. I had seen a picture of my hotel on the internet, so I figured I was good. I knew the hotel should be to my right and around a bit of a corner, according to my map, so I turned right, and headed towards a pedestrian bridge. When I reached the bridge, I pulled out my map to see if I was going the right direction, and the FIRST person who walked by me, and I don’t even think my map was unfolded yet, asked if I needed help. I told him the name of my hotel, Center Hotel Narita, and he nodded and said to follow him. He headed back in to the train station, pausing for a moment to show me the add poster for my hotel that I had missed, and then led me to some stairs saying ‘go down here, turn right, and it is on your left’. He turned to go. As I switched my bags around so I could grab the side handle of the roller bag (I’m overpacked, I have a rollerbag and a shoulder bag), he promptly picked up the rollerbag and proceeded down the stairs. He walks until we could see the hotel, and then he sets the bag down and points to the hotel. After many thanks from me, he turned and went his way.
I make it down the stairs and up a hill to the hotel, and I check in. My room is ‘western’ in that the bed is on a frame, the bathroom is private, and the toilet is, well, western. I am up on the eleventh floor and I have a view of part of Narita, including a pachinko parlor and a Volvo dealership. Opening my window, I can hear the traffic, but I can hear birds too. Looking down is a small park, with a gentleman walking his dog and a mother and child playing on the playground.
The bathroom is private, yet small. The toilet is on the left, and the top of the tank creates the side counter for the sink to the right, which the edge of forms the edge of the bath on its right. The bath shows an illustration of someone reclining in it, and their knees are bent up. Not enough room here to stretch your legs fully out. There is a choice of a shower; just turn a leaver and the water will flow from a different source.
After a shower, I headed back into Narita to try to get my bearings, and prepare for tomorrow. Since I came in on a ‘local’ train today, I did not come in from the JR station that I will need to find tomorrow. I fill my pockets with my passport, some yen, and a map, and head to Narita.
Walking the streets, I discover something about those bird noises I could hear from my room. They are not birds, they are the crosswalk signals. And depending on which way the crosswalk is, you would get a different bird sound!
Strolling I see a McDonalds, an AM/PM and a 7-11. In America, we have a crispy (read-fried) chicken sandwich. Here they have an ad for a crispy tofu sandwich, and it almost looks like they used the same picture. The 7-11 has what we have, with less sodas and more sushi. You can buy a boxed dinner, a snack or a sandwich in here. They also have a full range of beer, wine and hard alcohol for sale as well.
I walked on. In the residential areas, the neighborhoods are alive with plants. Where one house only has one foot from the edge of the house to the gutter, they will fill that one foot with all kinds of container plants to give it greens and colors. If they have two feet to the curb, than that affords them another row of containers that they can have. And if they have three feet – they will create a jungle!
And azaleas! Azaleas are used as groundcover here. There is one slope by my hotel covered in them, all about two feet tall, and all yielding fresh pink blooms from their branches.
Crossing back to the local train station, I discovered a storefront that sold take out sushi. These little boxed meals are called ‘binto’. And lucky me, they are all displayed with what is in them and the prices so I can point to order. I received a box, about 4’x4’x2’deep filled with rice, with seaweed shredded on top, with sushi including tuna, shrimp, salmon, scallops and fried egg (or tofu?) on top. Proceeding on to the pastry shop, I chose two sweets and headed back to the hotel to enjoy my dinner.
The rice was sticky and sweet, the sushi was flavorful, and the sweets were like small muffins, but flavored like black tea and chocolate. Dinner was to be followed with more Japanese TV. I enjoy watching the cartoons because they talk slow enough to give me a chance to understand, especially with the visuals.
Finally (ha! like 6:30!) I crawl into bed. Soon, I envision that something is crawling into bed with me and shaking it. Not feeling a body, I dream that they are just standing beside it and shaking it. Waking up a bit more, and remembering I am in a rented hotel loom on the eleventh floor with two sides of the bed squarely against walls, I realize that on one should be in there shaking the bed. But yet the bed is still shaking. I wonder if the building could be swaying the wind, but I don’t hear wind, just crosswalk birds. My first earthquake! The realization come to me that I have just experienced my first earthquake! Japan is very active techtonicly, both with earthquakes and hot springs, so I have now had the pleasure an excitement of experiencing one! Jumping to the window, I look down to see if anything looks amiss, yet no, it is just another day, and just another shake, in this land.